I’ve been using twitter now for a while, it has been useful to keep in touch with breaking news from media outlets such as CBC and the NYTimes, but more critically, it gives a live perspective of trending topics, particularly when you use a tool such as TweetDeck – see image to the left. I know that some of my readers are not twitter-literate, so I’ll outline why this is an important tool in rapid information sharing.
Now, there’s been a lot of posts about Iran this week, regarding the election and violence, but just now I checked the buzzing and trending topics and “canadians” is popping up with alarming regularity. As it turns out, it is being reported that the Canadian Embasy in Iran is turning away injured civilians and there are calls to email and phone the Canadian Foriegn Affairs and the PM.
Interestingly, this information is almost like hearing it from a guy running down the street in Tehran, you don’t know the facts, just that there is fear and bloodshed and you might see it on the evening news tonight if reporters are able to verify these claims. Your twitter account can be updated from a mobile phone, a computer or a smartphone and your posts must be less than 140 characters. You can subscribe to updates from anyone in the world using it, and anyone can see or subscribe to yours, unless you lock it for just your friends to see, which it seems that very few people do.
Below, I’ve taken a screenshot of some of the posts coming from a commentator on the Iran situation. RT means retweet and the @ symbol means that this is the person being retweeted or mentioned. Also, click here to see liveblogging about the situation in Iran from someone collecting twitter posts and youtube videos from Iran.
People have suggested that Twitter is a time-waster, and for the majority of us it probably is. But for the people in Iran, this is one of the only means of having their voices heard by the rest of the world as their society crumbles. That is not a waste of time. Here are some more comments from the Daily Dish on The Atlantic…
They can’t open their telecomm pipes, because the minute they do 3 million people will know how and where to gather, and the world will get to see thousands of videos showing horrific instances of state violence against its subjects. They have to open their telecomm pipes, because their economy cannot function without telecomm. They can’t repress too much, because the cleric support base will tip against them. These citizens are done with their leadership. The trust has completely and irretrievably dissipated, and the fear, although present, is not sufficient, especially as it becomes more clear the army will remain on the sidelines. And the mullahs have opened all the playbooks on repression and crowd control simultaneously; it’s a smorgasboard attempt at blocking the rising tide of resentment; if you’ll recall, that’s called the mullah’s-ass-on-a-pressure-cooker-lid-to-retard-fulmination rule. If things look bad with the pressure cooker, piling more mullahs on the lid will only result in a more spectacular finish. If the Warsaw Ghetto uprising had been broadcast to the entire world, Hitler’s demise most surely would have come several years sooner. The mullahs have no way out. They are, essentially, fucked. It’s now only a matter of time. And Iran’s negotiations on their nuclear program? Suspended indefinitely due to lack of credibility; nobody will believe anything they say now.
This is the importance of Twitter – to get news to the world, not just what they want us to hear, but what cries out to be said.